Doug Fister returns from the disabled list tonight to face the team that traded him last summer, as the Detroit Tigers open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Fister broke in with the Mariners in 2009, but Seattle sent him to the Tigers as part of a six-player deal near last year's trade deadline. The deal wound up having the most impact of any, as Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) down the stretch for the Tigers. He closed the year strong, posting a 7-0 mark, while allowing one run or less in his last eight outings.
"There's a lot of emotion to going back to where I started," said Fister. "But at the same point, it's still the same game. I'm going out there and facing hitters and going out there with me and I think [catcher Alex Avila]. We'll work together and again, it's not a focus of who I'm facing. It's just the matter of getting on the mound and throwing strikes."
Fister's season got off to a disappointing start this year, though, as he was forced to leave his first start with a left costochondral strain after allowing three hits in 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Tigers managed a series win on Sunday, as Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks each smacked solo shots in Detroit's 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
All three players finished with two hits, while starter Rick Porcello (3-2) allowed just one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of work. Closer Jose Valverde worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to record his fifth save of the season.
"He pitched extremely well," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland about Porcello. "That gives us a chance, particularly when you're not scoring the runs like we think we're capable of scoring."
Seattle, meanwhile, also enters on a high note after Hector Noesi went seven innings, Jesus Montero hit a two-run double and the Mariners defeated the Twins, 5-2, on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series.
Noesi (2-3) gave up one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five. Mike Carp hit a solo homer and Kyle Seager and Brendan Ryan had an RBI apiece for Seattle, which won the final two games of this series after dropping seven in a row.
"It's always nice to jump out early, take advantage of opportunities and get out in front like that," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "We had a couple guys step up for us in those RBI opportunities which is a good sign. I feel like we've got a lot of guys, offensively, heading in the right direction."
Tonight, Seattle will pin its hopes on righty Blake Beavan, who is 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA. Beavan lost on Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Rays, as he allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Beavan has never faced the Tigers.
The Mariners swept a three-game series in Detroit from April 24-26 and have won eight of the past 10 encounters.